D.C. Public Schools Staff Member Accused Of Forcing Third Graders To Reenact Holocaust, Even Making One Student Take Despicable Role
A staff member who works for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has now been accused of forcing third grade students to reenact the Holocaust, with some of the students pretending to actually dig mass graves and shoot victims.
And what’s worse, apparently the staff member made one of the students play the role of Adolf Hitler, going so far as to tell the student to pretend to commit suicide.
This staff member sounds like the kind of person who should be receiving therapy at a qualified mental institution on a round-the-clock basis.
The Washington Post reported that the staff member, from Watkins Elementary School, was placed on leave Friday after the incident was reported. School Principal MScott Berkowitz wrote an email to parents regarding the incident but did not name the staff member. The student who was cast as Hitler is reportedly Jewish, according to the student’s parents.
The students were in the library on Friday for class and were supposed to be presenting a project to their classmates ahead of the winter break, but the instructor changed the lesson to the reenactment instead. One parent told the Post that the instructor made antisemitic comments during the reenactment, including telling children who asked why the Germans perpetrated the Holocaust that “the Jews ruined Christmas.” This parent also said the instructor told children not to tell anyone about the reenactment, but they told their homeroom teacher.
This parent also told the Post that her son was told to pretend to be on a train heading for a concentration camp and then pretend to die in a gas chamber.
One of the parents of a student spoke with Fox 5 DC and stated that the kids are “traumatized” by the whole affair.
“One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house. Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time,” the parent said during a chat with the outlet.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder,” principal Berkowitz went on to write in an email addressed to parents.
The Post reported, “The incident was reported to D.C. Public Schools’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team. The staff member is now on leave, pending a school investigation.”
“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” a spokesperson for DCPS remarked about the incident.
The whole class of third grade students has met with the school’s mental health response team after the incident last Friday, according to the email.
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the incident via a post on Twitter:
“We’re horrified 3rd grade students were instructed to re-enact scenes from the Holocaust. Simulation activities trivialize the experience of victims & often reinforce stereotypes. We’ll be providing resources & support to help promote healing & education,” the organization posted.
“DC Public Schools is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all students. Last week, we received a report of a classroom of students receiving a lesson that included portraying different perspectives of the Holocaust. Students should never be tasked with acting out any atrocity, especially genocide and war. Additionally, there were allegations of a staff member using hate speech during the lesson, which is unacceptable and not tolerated at any of our schools. This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident. We have launched an investigation, and students are being supported by our DCPS Comprehensive Alternative Resolution & Equity Team,” DCPS said in a statement regarding the incident.
A librarian who works for the school says that there was no re-enactment of the Holocaust or hate speech used on that day.
“I think somebody’s misquoting what happened in the library that day,” she said to Fox 5.
However, the librarian wouldn’t answer questions the news outlet asked about whether any discussion about the Holocaust took place that day.
“I’m going to wait for the the [sic] investigation. I was shocked to see it myself,” she said, making a reference to Berkowitz’s letter.